Michael Moran's McDynamo edged away from his rival Hirapour to win Saturday's $150,000 Colonial Cup Steeplechase (NSA- I) at Springdale Race Course and likely wrap up 2005 honors in the process.
Trained by Sanna Hendriks and ridden by Jody Petty, McDynamo scored by 1 1/2 lengths over Hirapour (Matt McCarron) with Erin Go Bragh (Zach Miller) third in 5:14 2/5.
The final time was nowhere near Hirapour's 2004 course record of 5:04 3/5, but this race wasn't about the time it took. It was about the matchup. McDynamo, the 2003 Eclipse champion and race winner, versus Hirapour, the 2004 Eclipse champion and race winner. Before Saturday, they had split four races including a pair of grade I races this year.
McDynamo duplicated his wire-to-wire run in the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (Gr. I) last month in a powerful effort.
McDynamo used his standout jumping efforts to repel challenges for the race's first two miles. Hirapour's stablemate Numitas tried to make it a race early and faltered after seven fences. Free Admission ranged into contention down the backside the final time, but also gave way. Erin Go Bragh ranged up briefly. Finally, Hirapour arrived. The stretch runner lost ground with a jumping mistake on the backstretch, but was still able to claw to McDynamo's hip in the stretch. There he stayed.
"McDynamo is just so honest and up that stretch he did not stop trying," said Petty. "He knew Hirapour was coming up and he knew he didn't want to get beaten by Hirapour. McDynamo wanted it as much as I did, and I really wanted it."
The Eclipse vote will decide the champion, but McDynamo finished strongly with two grade I wins (matching Hirapour's total). He edged his rival in total earnings ($265,425 to $255,025) and won the season series 3-2. Not that it takes anything away from Hirapour.
"They are two really special horses," said Hendriks. "I thought about halfway between the wire and the last fence he was going to get us and then our horse just dug in again and had enough to fight him off. They both tried their tails off."
With 19 wins, Petty wrapped up his first 2005 National Steeplechase Association jockey championship on the day. He paid tribute to his horse's stout jumping as the difference maker.
"At the third or fourth fence, someone tried to come to me and I could feel them there," said Petty. "When we landed, they were nowhere around. I don't know too many horses who can run and jump like that."
Bred in Kentucky by Nathan Fox, Richard Fox and Richard Kaster, McDynamo was an $80,000 Keeneland Sales yearling purchase. Now 8, the son of Dynaformer
won for the 11th time over jumps and boosted his steeplechase bankroll to $833,104. Only Lonesome Glory's $1.3 million stands above McDynamo on the NSA's career earnings list.
Other 2005 champions are Hendriks (trainer), Augustin Stable (owner), Miles Ahead (timber horse), Guelph (novice hurdler and filly/mare hurdler) and Ginz (3-year-old hurdler).